Author Archives: Andrew Haldane

Is there a defence against the dark arts?

This bizarre election campaign is based on building a personality cult around a virtual reality leader who can parrot well–rehearsed lines in controlled surroundings, but doesn’t have the guts to risk exposing her façade in a proper leadership debate. It demonstrates both the arrogance of the Tory PR machine and a press propaganda juggernaut that Putin must envy.

Behind deceptively simple messages there appears to  lie a skilful use of psychology, particularly an understanding of cognitive dissonance; the propensity to ignore, distort or misinterpret incoming information which does not align with existing beliefs or is otherwise unsettling.  The dissonance ramparts are not however impregnable; they can be breached, and an action tendency can be changed. Information that comes from trusted sources, or is otherwise credible, will sometimes get through.  During the referendum “project fear” and the denigration of experts was a clever device to offer wavering leavers licence further to indulge their dissonance and ignore powerful evidence to the contrary that might otherwise have triggered many voters’ decision tipping points.

Another tool being exploited is dissonance’s mirror image i.e. consonance. One way to achieve the desired acceptance of a new message is to tag it to an existing belief or to some information likely to be accepted as fact.  The widely expected difficulty of Brexit negotiations ought to work in our favour. it does not logically follow that the annihilation of alternative political voices or an awkward woman are the answer, but voters are looking for reassurance, for mitigation of perceived risk, and are taking these messages on board. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Could PEVEL help to secure the triumph of good over EVEL?

england-flagEvery time a Tory mentions English Votes for English Laws they have a certain daemonic glint in their eyes. The power junkies think they are about to get the keys to the pharmacy. They say nature abhors a vacuum, but the Tories can hardly conceal their delight at the vacuum created by the meteoric rise up the political agenda of the West Lothian Question (which they and their friends in the media have helped to propagate). In 2010 they gained 56% of English MPs with 40% of the English vote. Implementing overdue boundary revisions and reducing MP numbers would tilt the balance further in their favour. Requiring a good deal less than 40%, they could gain a majority of English MPs for the foreseeable future if historic voting patterns persist.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 36 Comments

Opinion: Could there still be a bright future for Lords reform?

Unless we are admitting defeat or  consider the electorate agog with admiration of the status-quo, we perhaps need to look beyond  the seemingly  compelling case for democratic legitimacy and begin developing some more imaginative ideas about what a reformed second chamber  might do  differently and explore its potential for transforming  politics.

Limiting the level of ambition for our shiny new democratic institution to the pursuit of the same old objectives of itself does not seem like a great leap forward.

It also leaves us vulnerable to the tactics adopted by the Conservatives and their press allies, who assiduously sought to cultivate public …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Allen 22nd May - 6:23pm
    "Large numbers of Remainers apparently share this view and are turning to Tories as guarantors of a mild Brexit. Expressed as such, the idea seems...
  • User Avatarexpats 22nd May - 6:19pm
    Phil Beesley 22nd May '17 - 1:08pm..............For once, I sympathise with the Conservative Party. Which is not to say that I agree with them, but...
  • User AvatarMary Reid 22nd May - 5:23pm
    OK, so I got confused about the buses, but not as confused as Boris Johnson about money for the NHS
  • User AvatarChris Cory 22nd May - 5:19pm
    @arnieg. The sharp elbowed affluent middle classes may be among those worried by May's threat to take their home, but so are thousands of working...
  • User AvatarNick Collins 22nd May - 4:45pm
    Brilliant: four comments so far, and not one of them addressing Mark Argent's central point. A typical LDV thread.
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 22nd May - 4:38pm
    The last thing the party needs to be associated with is Goldman Sachs.